At 14h15 this afternoon, the gurney arrived to take me down to surgery. This time, Jessie came with me, as well as Praxis, and they both helped pass the forty minutes that I spent on the operating table waiting for Dr. Sanguan to arrive and get started. There is little so daunting, in my mind, as the time spent in anticipation of something one doesn't want but must have, like sitting in the waiting room at the dentist's office in anticipation of a root canal, or in the boss's office waiting to be fired.
The first time I went into surgery, I had a general anaesthetic. The second was supposed to be under an epidural but ended up being general when something went wrong with the spinal block. This time, I had the option of going totally under again—an idea no-one particularly liked—or having everything done solely under a local where needed. Now, in the past I've made my share of jokes about watching the procedure as it was happening. I even wanted Jessie there to take pictures or get a video or something. However, faced with the idea of being awake while the surgeon cut on me, I began to quietly panic. Unfortunately, the epidural wasn't an option this time, and nobody was happy with the idea of me having to go under general anaesthetic three times in such a short span, and so I agreed to have it done with just the locals.
Lying on the bed, Dr. Sanguan testing areas on my side to find out if I was numb enough for him to remove a hunk of flesh to act as the graft donor site, I about fainted, I think. Jessie kept me mostly coherent, telling me I was doing well and reminding me to let zim know about any pains or twitches, letting me squeeze zir paw when I felt something unpleasant or just needed to release tension. I think if Jessie hadn't been there, I'd have had a
full-blown panic attack.
In hindsight, the whole experience feels like having been in-scene to an unsafe master, Dr. Sanguan. Let me state right now that the man has brilliant hands and that I can't think of anyone I'd recommend more highly for the procedure than him, but because of how my head is wired, about half an hour into the two-hour process, I began to get very nervous and twitchy. I'm in very poor shape, and so limbs that lie still too long begin to lose
circulation. My arm started to tingle after about half an hour, and I had to ask one of the nurses for permission to move it because it had been tied down to the bed to keep me from flailing around with it. Shortly thereafter, my
butt started to get sore from lack of motion, and I tried to shift it but Dr. Sanguan told me to stop moving, and of course there was no option for me but to comply and wait.
I told him what the problem was, and he said when he was done with my side he'd let me adjust myself while he worked with the graft tissue. I did get the chance to move around on the table when he'd finished sewing up my side, but not very much, and by the time he was ready to numb up my groin to do the graft itself, I was still sore and not looking forward to another bout of enforced stillness.
He removed my catheter, something that hurt very briefly, then put in a new, shorter tube, which hurt a little more, but neither pain lasted very long. Then came fresh packing into my vagina, to keep me nice and stretched for the
three days I'll be stuck in bed, which he inserted with a speculum and nowhere near enough lubricant, or maybe it was just a larger size than to which I was accustomed. Either way, the insertion was stressful, even painful at points, and then he had to pull it out and do it again because he'd made it too long, which was another round of pain ending in discomfort at having something just slightly too big stuffed between my legs. On top of the catheter change it felt very much like I had to go to the bathroom, though I couldn't have done so even if I'd really wanted it.
After all these steps, the nurses put my legs up in stirrups, effectively cutting off their range of motion and the circulation below my knees, which meant that inside of fifteen minutes of Dr. Sanguan stitching on the grafts, my legs went numb and I had to get Jessie to explain to the nurses what needed to be massaged. Then my butt followed suit and what followed really was little more than forty-five minutes of extreme discomfort, but no way to safeword, no way to say "stop" and have it mean anything, no way to pause while I got my bearings, my breath, my sense of safety. All I could do was lie there, let Jessie stroke my hair and endure the sensations.
Nothing ever hurt, except for the pinpricks of the syringes and a few misplaced jabs with the suture needles. That was, I think, the worst part. If it had hurt, I could've said something it all would've stopped right there. Nothing ever did, but they were as annoying and discomfiting as possible without passing the line at which I could've legitimately complained and been heard and had something done about the problems.
As I said before, I'm back to enforced bedrest. Dr. Sanguan's said I can't stand, can't walk, can't do anything that would put the graft or my side at risk for three days. After that, he'll remove the packing, check all the stitchwork and let me know how things have gone. I hope like hell that the grafts take this time. If they don't, I'm going to have to do this again, and I'm really not looking forward to that.
If I do have to have surgery again, I'm requesting the general.